Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Bastille Day dans la belle France
These last three weeks have been an eye opener. The nature of tourists in France is totally different this year to years past. Few Germans as, like us, they have the rest of Europe to bail out, so can't afford holidays. A few Italians blowing the last of their countries national debt on oversized and ostentatious motorhomes. Fewer Dutch than usual, same reason as the Germans I suspect, but the few Dutch we have met are so far up their own jacksies they are almost inside out, so no loss there.
But the French are as generous and hospitable as ever, maybe even more so in the south and east than elsewhere. But on Monday I did have what I call a 'French overload day'. It can be a really infuriating place at times but in a very understated, very French way. When you have had a hearty lunch and a glass of vin rouge you wonder what you were so pissed off about.
We stopped at a service area for breakfast outside Lyon. £5 for a poxy croissant (yet again), a glass of orange and a coffee. Then I filled up with diesel. The French seem incapable of putting fuel in a vehicle without leaving a reservoir of fuel on the ground by the pump. So you fill up after wading through a gallon of spilled diesel, which you then tramp into your car. Why?
But worse. If you lug a caravan you often have to share parking space at services with truckers. Then you step from the mother ship, put your foot on the hot concrete to be greeted by the overwhelming stench of urine. They are at services but piss on the floor at the side of their trucks. Why?
You go to the loo and, if you need to use a trap rather than a pissoir, there is never a seat, just a porcelain rim. Of course that's when there is a toilet and not just a hole in the ground to squat over. Why?
Then you try to rejoin the motorway using the very short sliproad. But the cars on the motorway seem to speed up to come alongside then slow down so you can't rejoin. At times it is like driving on roads full of five year old kids who have stolen their parents cars. Why?
But we're already planning our trip to Paris in October and next year's summer holiday in Burgundy and maybe Brittany. Although Brittany may be a little too like Cornwall for us. We really love the real France!
So for Frenchmen everywhere, thank you for another wonderful few weeks, but please sort the driving out.
And have a wonderful Bastille Day.